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  1. #1
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    May 2019
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    Default Anyone pull on hand planes?

    Does anyone use their hand planes by pulling? I'm not talking about oriental planes that are designed to be pulled, but Bailey style planes.


    I had been push planing a slightly but measurably warped board for hours. I would start from taking some shavings off a couple of spots on a full length push to pushing the whole thing through without the blade engaging at all. Then, I set the blade deeper and did it again - same thing until the blade didn't engage on a full length push. If it's flat I should be able to take a full length shaving. But no - some shavings to no shaving. And the board was still as warped as it was to begin with. How demoralising!

    Then I started pulling back on the plane, and it finally started taking shavings at the same blade depth that I didn't get while pushing. I think that the pulling form ensures pressure to engage the blade that I didn't get while pushing. I didn't manage to get a full length shaving this way, but I did end up getting it flat.

    I have a feeling my push stroke is wrong, but whatever works, eh? Should I just invest in a real set of pulling planes? Or learn how to push a plane properly

  2. #2
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    Yep. This is why I focused on the Veritas low angled planes. I grip them both ways, but prefer to pull.

    The low angled setups and handleless frog let me do this.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Wentworth Falls, NSW
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    Default

    Your experience may well be as much about grain as plane grip. But a reverse (pull) grip is quite normal. I am sure I have seen a Paul Sellers video on various ways if g
    using a handplane.

    Bruce

  4. #4
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    I think there's something amiss either with your plane or your technique, or p'raps both, yoboseyo.

    Theoretically, you should be able to push or pull any plane (I frequently pull small planes), but the Baileys are definitely designed with pushing in mind, and are far more comfortable to use that way! Neither way should require excessive down-pressure to make the plane cut - like saws, planes should cut pretty much under their own weight when sharp & set up correctly.

    From the plane side, there are a couple of possibilities for the behaviour you describe:
    1. The sole is slightly concave. This is the worst defect a plane can have, it simply will not work properly - you can make a convex sole cut from end to end, though it will be hard to control properly, but you'll never get a concave sole to cut other than at the beginning & end of the board unless you use a very coarse set, which will snag on the ends.
    2. Your blade bevel is too high & you don't have sufficient clearance. You may get some cutting with a very rank set or heavy down-pressure, but you simply won't get fine, consistent shavings without sufficient clearance.

    Technique:
    If I interpret your description correctly, you were simply planing end to end from the start? This will rarely get you a flat board in a hurry. The idea is to identify all the high spots (either by sighting along the board, using winding sticks, or with a short, twisted board, lay it on a flat surface & wobble it to see where the high ends are. Bring the high spots down first, usually using a short-bodied plane with a heavily-cambered & coarse set blade (i.e. a 'scrub plane'). Plane at about 45 degrees to the main grain direction (plane along he high spot, then go back planing at 90 degress to the first direction). The idea of that approach is both to hit the high spots directly, and because wood fibres are easier to sever cutting across. You can remove very large amounts of wood quickly this way: 8 main slab.jpg

    Large, long boards like that are a lot of work to flatten, especially if twisted, so if it's going to be cut into shorter lengths, do that first and it will reduce the amount of material you need to remove to get a flat surface: 9 flattening face.jpg

    When the board is level (but usually pretty rough), you switch to a longer plane like a 5 or 5.5, with a cambered blade (but much less camber than the 'scrub' plane you began with) and a moderately coarse set. Now you try planing end to end, and the plane should hit the tops of your scrub-plane grooves all the way along the board - if there are still significant hills & dales, you may need to go back to the scrub & deal with them. When you get even shavings end to end with the second plane, you can switch to a 6 or 7 to get that clean, planar surface you're after.

    You can do it all with one plane if you are persistent and alter the set accordingly. For the first dozen years of my woodworking all I had was a #5 and a block plane, but a couple more 'proper' planes sure made life a lot easier!

    Cheers,
    IW

  5. #5
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    moonbi nsw Aus
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    Very well explained Ian!!
    Just do it!

    Kind regards Rod

  6. #6
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    May 2019
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    Default

    Thanks for the detailed explanation, Ian! I will put some of these things to the test in my next attempt.

    To address some of your points, my sole sits flat against my straight edge. I know that planing end-to-end isn't the quickest way, and as you said, it won't flatten a board in a hurry, but the key point is that it will, right? I had given up using my scrub plane and was using a #7, because I thought that it will eventually get the board flat - just a matter of time. I thought that as long as I kept pushing, it will take off some stock, and the shavings will gradually get longer and longer until I can take a full length shaving, and then it will be flat. Never got to that point though - as I mentioned, I went from taking some stock to taking off no stock. This left me at a conundrum.

    I did notice, however, that at the same blade depth I was getting a shaving going diagonally but not going straight. It's easier to severe the grain, true. That's why I thought the blade is set deep enough and it's my technique that was preventing me from taking a shaving

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by yoboseyo View Post
    .... I know that planing end-to-end isn't the quickest way, and as you said, it won't flatten a board in a hurry, but the key point is that it will, right? I had given up using my scrub plane and was using a #7, because I thought that it will eventually get the board flat - just a matter of time.....
    Well, not necessarily, as you discovered. There's always a risk that you'll exacerbate the faults, or that the blade just can't make enough contact to do anything worthwhile (as you discovered!). From what you relate, I'd guess your board has a few problems, including a goodly twist. Twist is probably the most difficult fault to fix, even for an experienced hand planer, and you just have to accept that you are going to waste a good deal of wood to get a flat face. If it's a precious piece & saving wood is important, consider cutting it & straightening narrower pieces. It's easier to straighten narrow bits & often ends up saving more wood than it wastes. But if you want a wide board, that's not a good solution, either.

    Quote Originally Posted by yoboseyo View Post
    .... I did notice, however, that at the same blade depth I was getting a shaving going diagonally but not going straight. It's easier to severe the grain, true. That's why I thought the blade is set deep enough and it's my technique that was preventing me from taking a shaving.....
    OK, good point - at least you know your blade is cutting and it's not a sharpening problem. Sounds a bit like you are dealing with both twist & a bow & the long body of the 7 is being held up too high for the blade to make contact when going along the board. When going across the grain only part of the sole is on the work & you are effectively using a short plane. You need to figure out the surface of that board - time to get the winding sticks out & map what's where. Put one stick across the end closest to you, then take sightings at about 300mm intervals to determine if the twist is regular or ducking & diving all over the shop. Sighting along the board will tell you if it's bowed.

    Knowing precisely what the problem is makes it a whole lot easier to deal with. I know 'cos I don't always take my own advice! I too often try to straighten a slightly twisted short board by hitting where I think the high bits are without checking properly. Inevitably, I end up making it worse! You'd think I'd have learnt after 60 years of mucking about with wood that short-cuts more often turn out to be long-cuts......

    Cheers,
    IW

  8. #8
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    Default sometimes you just have to go mechanical!

    electrons man!

    flatten long boards.jpg

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodPixel View Post
    electrons man!
    that was my plan! turns out I have a choice between building stuff or building stuff to build stuff.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by yoboseyo View Post
    that was my plan! turns out I have a choice between building stuff or building stuff to build stuff.
    Isn’t that always the case?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by yoboseyo View Post
    ....... I have a choice between building stuff or building stuff to build stuff...
    One of the few good things about getting long in the tooth is that the stuff that needed to be built has either long since been built, or the need for it has passed (quite a few of those! ). Now I spend most of my time building stuff to build stuff that will probably not get built, because by the time I get the stuff built to build it, I'll have forgotten what it was I was going to build.....


    Cheers,
    IW

  12. #12
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    If you can pull to get a flat, you can push to get a flat. I'd suggest that you get some soft to medium hardness timber and, mark a line and forget about making it flat. Even close your eyes. Just work out what the feel of it is. Do it enough to work out where your "natural lean" is. Then reverse it deliberately, then close your eyes again and keep planing. Repetitive body movements are the key for sports, using your hands is a sport, just keep repeating, you'll work it out. The key is repeating the movement but only checking infrequently. Try doing 40 strokes of the plane on an edge with your eyes shut, you'll see that the error gets magnified. I used to do target shooting, 1/2 of the shot would be done with closed eyes. Muscle memory, either chasing a line or not is very much overlooked. Muscle memory either follows the eye, or follows a supposed line. Try just closing your eyes and seeing what you end up with. When I used to tutor target shooting I used to get the shooters to aim and then close their eyes to fire, 9 times out of 10 they would shoot a small group somewhere off their aiming point due to muscle memory. E.g. aim at the target, close their eyes, hit a small grouping of shots away from where they were aiming. Muscle memory is insidious, it's worth checking. I coached a lot of people who shot better with their eyes closed than with their eyes open, if they could relax and not give a stuff, which is actually easy to achieve when the shooter realises that by being eyes closed takes off any performance pressure. By being relaxed repitition errors can get magnified but you can also identifiy muscle memory and learn to allow for that. Apprentices didn't just do repitition work to spare the craftsmen, they also did it to develop muscle memory.
    Cheers,
    Clinton

    "Use your third eye" - Watson

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/clinton_findlay/

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